NEWS
26/02/2018 06:29 SAST | Updated 26/02/2018 06:29 SAST

Public Protector: Hell No, I Won't Go

Busisiwe Mkhwebane says her reports are not soft, and that she is here to stay until 2023.

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fighting back against her critics and says she won't heed calls for her to resign. In an interview with Frankly Speaking on SABC3 on Sunday night, Mkhwebane said she would remain in her post until her term ends in 2023, and said criticisms that her reports were "soft" were not true.

She has been heavily criticised for her handling of the Absa/CIEX report, and the Estina dairy farm matter.

But on Sunday she said the majority of her reports were about "bread-and-butter" issues and that people did not read those.

She said she is independent and that she will not resign, in spite of "threats" to her independence such as the recent cost award against her in the Absa case.

Mkhwebane cited the Mandela funeral case as an example of a case where her office is making a difference. Her report found that officials had stolen funds earmarked for Nelson Mandela's funeral.

In the Absa/CIEX case, last week, the High Court in Pretoria set aside the remedial action she recommended, that Absa should pay back the state R1.1-billion for a loan that was unlawfully granted to its predecessor by the apartheid government.

According to eNCA, the court found that Mkhwebane had acted unlawfully, reached beyond her legal powers and breached provisions of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Paja).

The court also found that she "does not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice", by failing to tell the court about meetings she had with the presidency regarding the Absa matter.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is the latest body calling for her removal. According to Eyewitness News (EWN), Outa says it will write to the speaker of Parliament to request a debate on Mkhwebane's fitness for office.

On Sunday, Mkhwebane said allegations that her report was influenced by her alleged closeness to former president Jacob Zuma were unfounded.

She was also in hot water over her handling of the Estina dairy farm complaint, in which she recommended that action be taken against local politicians, but ignored broader state capture allegations involving the Gupta family.

But Mkhwebane said the allegations against the Guptas in that matter only arose when her report was nearing completion. She also said she did not have the funds to fully investigate state capture.

In the original complaint, she was also not asked to investigate ministers alleged to be involved in state capture, she said.

She said some of the issues related to state capture should be taken over by the state capture commission of inquiry.

Mkhwebane took the opportunity to explain that she was underfunded, something her predecessor Thuli Madonsela had also complained about.